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According to the Washoe County School District Police Department, 25 students have been hit by cars near schools in our district during the 2019/2020 school year. On separate occasions, one driver killed one student and a different driver left two students severely injured while they were on their way to school. When we posted this alarming statistic on Facebook, one of our followers said, “Sounds like more education is in order.” We couldn’t agree more – education and awareness are the keys to changing behavior and creating safer habits.
We have seen a flurry of activity around pedestrian safety from education pieces to local student activism; we like what we’re seeing. For example, the Reno Police Department has been sharing tips every Tuesday on social media regarding traffic and pedestrian safety. Recently, three students from the Academy of Arts, Careers, and Technology (AACT) petitioned the City of Reno to install a new flashing safety light system for the crosswalk in front of their school on Edison Way. REMSA, along with Sierra Transportation Technologies, Carmanah, and the City of Reno, supported this project and celebrated it when it came to fruition.
However, pedestrian safety won’t improve overnight and fixing areas where accidents have occurred won’t account for risk factors in other areas. To improve pedestrian safety, we need continued education and local activism to support the growing pedestrian safety issues in our community.
Below is a list of safety tips for pedestrians, drivers and bikers:
Safety tips for pedestrians:
- Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk and you have to walk on the road, always walk facing the traffic so you can see any car that approaches you.
- Dress to be seen. Brightly colored clothing makes it easier for drivers to see you during the daytime. At night, please wear special reflective material on your shoes, hat or jacket to reflect the headlights of cars coming toward you. Consider carrying a flashlight or wearing safety lights.
- Put away your cell phone and other devices.
- Cross only at corners or marked crosswalks – and remember, a crosswalk is not a magic box that will stop a car – you must remain vigilant about motorists even when you are in the crosswalk
- While walking across the street:
- Stop at the curb or the edge of the road.
- Look in all directions for vehicles and bikes.
- Watch for cars turning – 3 out of 4 crashes occur at intersections.
- Make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you.
- If you see a car coming, wait until it passes. Then look left, right and left again until you can see it’s clear to cross.
- If a car is parked where you are crossing, make sure there is no driver in the car. Then, go to the edge of the car and look left-right-left until no cars are coming. Keep looking for cars while you are crossing, and remember, walk. Don’t run.
Safety tips for drivers:
- Stay off your cell phones and concentrate on the road. If you need to take a call, pull over to the side of the road.
- Be cognizant of school zones and crosswalks.
- Pause and wait before you make a turn. Turn slowly. Expect people in the crosswalk every time.
- Slow down – if you hit someone at 30 mph, you are twice as likely to kill them than if you hit them at 25 mph. In addition, a driver traveling at 20 mph can stop in three car lengths; a driver traveling at 40 mph takes as much as nine car lengths to stop.
- Give yourself extra time to get to your desired location.
- Do not drink and drive – there are plenty of safe options out there including the RTC Transit, Lyft and Uber.
Safety tips for bikers:
- Always wear your helmet when you ride your bike. Bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent.
- Always wear a reflector or install a light on the front and rear end of your bike.
- Obey all traffic rules including stopping at all stop signs and traffic lights.
- Give the right of way to pedestrians.
- Look in all directions when exiting a driveway.
- Ride on the right side of the road with the flow of traffic.
- Do not ride in the wrong direction on one-way streets such as Center and Sierra Streets.
- User proper hand signals to indicate turns.
Please review these rules with your family and share them across your social networks. An educated community is a safer community. We all have a role to make each day as safe as possible.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding pedestrian safety in your community, please call or visit the following websites:
REMSA is a member of a local task force, Vision Zero Truckee Meadows. To learn more about pedestrian safety, please visit http://visionzerotruckeemeadows.com/.